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September 7, 2021 12:01 am
When Jesus' disciples encountered a man who was blind from birth, they raised the question we often ask: Why? Today, R.C. Sproul help us understand the purpose of our own suffering in the providence of God.
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Every time my body aches and every time my heart aches. I second-guess the wisdom of God because it sure doesn't seem redemptive to me at the moment welcomed when you and your motives to think on the web. The Bible tells us to count it all joy when we meet the trials of various kinds, but were the most wells fit in God's divine plan. How much of our suffering is directly related to our sin for someone else's. These questions are not new. Jesus faced during his earthly ministry.
When he encountered a man born blind will find his answer was, not without controversy. Then and now in our study of the doctrine of evidence. Recently we have been concentrating on the problem of pain and suffering that human beings experience center called to endure that provokes the question within all of us. How could God allow these things to happen. We've looked at some very important biblical passages that address this question, we considered the plight of the prophet Habakkuk.
We've looked at the story in the Gospel of Luke about the temple of Siloam fell and crushed 18 people to death. We looked carefully at the book of Job where we have the most expansive study of this question of human suffering and pain, but I would like to look at one more incident that occurs in the New Testament because it sheds light on an important dimension that we face when we asked this question why when were trying to grapple with the relationship between God's providence and my suffering and the relationship between my suffering and my sin more than once I have been in the hospital room at the bedside of a dying person who has sought me out in order to make confession and the confessions that I have heard from the lips of dying people have often included a confession of some deep dark sin for which the person has sent to me they are sure is the reason for their suffering and their impending death. Recently in the school that were involved with one of the parents came to the administrator of the school and said I don't want my children to be taught that God ever punishes people and the administrator came to me and say what we do about that as well.
You better not teach atonement.
You better not teach about the cross, you better not teach about the last judgment.
In fact, you better not teach anything about Christianity because were have to eliminate the righteousness of God. The justice of God the holiness of God and the judgment of God.
The reality is friends.
God does punish people and I think we all know that our hope is that he will spare us from that punishment, but we know that if he does punish us. It will be just and holy and righteous. Have you noticed the language that the New Testament use uses to describe the last judgment. The universal description of Scriptures about the last judgment is that the response of the guilty will be the same. It will be a response of absolute silence with the lips of the convicted will be sealed, not because they suddenly melted in their hostility towards God, but because they will see in the final tribunal, the absolute futility of arguing against the judgment of God, not the futility that exists because you can't win because of God's power but because the evidence will be so manifest and so clear and the contrast between God's holiness and our sinfulness so vivid that every miles will be stopped. But in the meantime we complain and grouse about the fairness of God. Now, an event takes place in the New Testament that speaks to this question. I believe in a most important manner.
It's found in the ninth chapter of John's Gospel in the first verse we read this now as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from birth and his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who send this man or his parents that he was born blind that we could comment at great length about the very question that the disciples are bringing here to Jesus that all of the that we are told by John this is that Jesus was walking down the road and he looked over and he saw a man that everybody knew was blind and he had been blind from his birth.
You would think that the question that the disciples would bring to Jesus would go something like this, master. There's another blind man are you going to touch him.
Are you going to heal him. Are you going to restore his site. Instead, the disciples look at this blind man in his misery and instead of asking Jesus to do something about the blindness they make this an occasion for theological lesson and they come to Jesus and they say Jesus, this man was born blind, who send the man or his parents that caused him to be born blind know if you are students of logic you know that there is a fallacy called the fallacy of the complex question where the question is posed as an either or situation when in fact there may be other explanations is the kind of question, the prosecuting attorney asks in the courtroom of the defendant. When did you stop beating your wife, if he says never that Vince is continuing to beat his wife and if he says yesterday, then he's admitting that he was beating his wife as of asking the direct question. Did you ever beat your wife the loans the question so that however you answer the question. The man confesses his guilt. That's the way the question is raised by the disciples, is that the assumption is that there are only two options that this man was born blind because he himself had committed the sin, presumably before he was born or the sin of his parents was being transferred to the child. Now, again, there is there are a host of theological errors and false assumptions and that question, but there is at least one genuine and authentic and sound assumption in their question. The disciples had produced the possible causes for this man's blindness due to his own sin or his parents, and they assumed at least this much that somebody sin is responsible for this. I think it's a sound assumption why Dawson does not. The Bible teach over and over and over again that it is through sin that death and suffering come into the world. Can we not safely assume had there been no fall.
Had there been no sin in the first place, there would be no pain there would be no suffering, there would be no death in this world in Eden. Nobody was blind in Eden. No one had boils when Adam walked to the garden. He didn't have to worry about temples falling down his head and crushing or someone mixing his blood with the blood of the sacrifices they offered to go in heaven there will be no blindness.
In heaven there will be no accidents. There will be no tears. There will be no death that will be no suffering. Why because there will be no sin, and before sin.
There was no pain in Eden suffers no sin, so the Bible teaches us over and over again that suffering and pain and tragedy calms and flows out of the sinful human condition. And it also teaches us that we are in that sinful condition before were born and so that we receive some measure of judgment upon us before we have done anything because of our relationship to that. This is not the place.
In this lecture to discuss original sin or the consequences of the fall in the theological manner of done that many other places with dates available if you want to hear them, but for for this episode I want to look at the specific man at the specific place at the specific time in the disciples, however, made the proper assumption that somewhere, somehow, sin is involved in this but they make a tremendous error when they assume that this person's suffering is a direct and immediate proportionate response of his own sin. The second false assumption they make is that because their parents did something wicked.
The child is punished now.
The Bible does teach that the consequences of my sin carry on down through the generations and in a certain sense God visits the iniquities of his people to the third and fourth generation.
And yet at the same time the book of Ezekiel makes it very clear that no child is punished directly for a sin that somebody else.the only time an innocent person has ever suffered for somebody else's sin was on the cross and that was voluntarily when Jesus willingly assumed to himself the sin of his people and was willing to bear the pain that it deserved so we cannot cry before God as the people in Ezekiel's day did. Oh God, it's not fair. The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. So obviously, the disciples and read Ezekiel when they asked this question about the man born blind. So the two errors they make again are in assuming that there was a direct proportion between the sin that the person committed or somebody else committed and the degree of suffering at those the only conceivable reasons for which this man is born blind. By the way the man about whom were speaking today isn't blind anymore. You know that Dr. he enjoys not only vision the beatific vision he is able to view unhindered without cloud and without blur the manifest glory of God. As I speak and I often wonder if human beings in heaven can observe what were doing here on this earth and can hear our discussions, I would wonder if this dear saint who spent the last 2000 years in the bosom of Abraham, and it was perfect vision. I wonder face hearing me right now talking about me that there some people still can't understand why I was born blind, but I sure know I was born blind. Those two years of darkness made in writing this history because God used that event to glorify Christ to manifest his greatness and every day that man goes the angel Gabriel. This is pure sprawl in speculation.
He goes to the Gabriel simply send me down there again. Let me be blind for another few years so that other people can see the beauty of God Missy Jesus said there are other reasons why we suffer besides punishment to know that the very way of redemption is on the Via Dolorosa, don't you know that I am a man of sorrows, and that I am intimately acquainted with grief. Haven't I shown you and talk to that is through affliction that we are sanctified that we are drawn closer to God that our character is developed and that my redemptive purposes are such is that you will never ever ever suffer in vain that suffering for my people is always 100% of the time, redemptive blood that's probably the hardest message. There is to hear and to believe. From the looks of sacred Scripture, because every time my body aches and every time my heart aches I second-guess the wisdom of God because it sure doesn't seem redemptive in the at the moment and yet the apostles tell us that we should not think that it is a strange thing when we were visited by affliction because it's in those afflictions that God works his redemption in us and though we must endure great tribulation for a season. The apostle Paul who suffered as much, as any human they never lived safer. Jesus said that the afflictions that we bear in the body and in this world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that God has stored up for us in heaven. But when our focus is on our pain, our focus is on the now and on the presence and all this man could see at that moment in his life was nothing deep, dark blackness.
Presumably he didn't even know that this discussion was taking place between Jesus and his disciples. They couldn't see them. Maybe his sense of hearing had so developed that he could hear the approaching footsteps and he was straining to get some sense of who was, Jesus said, neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
I must work the works of him who sent me well of his day.
The night is coming when no one can work. And as long as I'm in the world I am the light of the world. This man was born blind.
Jesus said, so that God could work his work through him when my associate Bob Ingram was in seminary. He listened to a lecture that a student gave the New Testament class where the student lectured on this text from John nine and the student was angry. The student was hostile towards the text and towards its teaching and in the end he finally said about this text. He says this passage reveals a God who is supremely arrogant.
A God who in order to manifest his own glory would make a baby blind. I choose to believe in a God far less arrogant than that.
I asked wanted to ask Bob Ingram if when he heard those words.
He didn't make sure that he moved his seat as far as possible from the student who said those things I wouldn't want to get caught in the lightning because I've heard few expressions of more on varnished arrogance than that it reflected and revealed not the arrogance of God, but the arrogance of the student who would charge God with such a thing. So Jesus answered the theological questions and when he had said these things. John tells us he spat on the ground and he made clay with the saliva and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay and he said to him, go wash in the pool of salon and so he went and he washed and he came back see I wonder how long it took him to forget the darkness as his eyes took in the panorama people and the things before he endured his pain for the moment, and for all eternity. He has the unimpeded vision of the sweetness of the glory. Ephesians chapter 1 tells us that God works all things according to the counsel of his will.
Because of that everything has a purpose and everything happens under God's authority. So even when we suffer, we know that God's plan is not being thwarted. We are still under his loving care will hear more about that Dr. scroll in just a moment. I hope you'll stay with us. These are difficult things to consider, especially when we are hurting him. That's why were Aaron doctors groceries on Providence this week. Your on Renewing Your Mind.
Darcy also wrote a book on this topic called the invisible hand in it he helps us build a biblical perspective on God's providence as you read you'll find comfort in the fact that God controls every aspect of his creation.
We like to send you the 25th anniversary edition of this book. When you give a donation over the about to look at your ministries will also provide a digital download of the series were hearing this week which has 15 messages on the providence of God. You can reach us by phone to make your request. Our number is 800-435-4343 or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind.org and on behalf of all of my colleagues you're looking your ministries, let me thank you for your generosity.
As promised, here's RC with a final thought.
I want to say another word about something we covered in our look at John chapter 9 and that is with respect to the description that God gives about what the judgment day will be like that when we stand before him, and the books are open there will be silence in heaven. That is, we will have nothing to say in our own defense. We will see clearly, then, that all of God's works are not only marvelous but that they are altogether just and there is no injustice in his Providence. This at times is the hardest thing for the Christian to trust particularly when we see pain affliction illness and death. There we need to be silent as John Calvin once said were God closes his holy mouth.
We must desist from inquiry.
Yes, we search the Scriptures to learn of his ways. But sometimes the answers don't come and there is a time and a place for a holy silence before the sovereignty of God. Dr. scroll help us understand that more deeply tomorrow as we continue the series Providence God in control. The title of the messages together for good, and I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind